Cold virus finally cornered?

You have probably read about the discovery of yet another ‘cure’ for the common cold so many times you don’t believe it. But a group of brilliant British researchers may be able to change your mind.

The team from Imperial College London has uncovered a way to stop the cold virus from reproducing and spreading through the respiratory system.

The scientists say a synthesised chemical, which for now is called IMP-1088, targets a cell protein that cold viruses use to build a shell to protect them from being effectively attacked and killed.

Up to now, a vaccine to prevent people from catching colds has been elusive because the virus is actually made up of 100 strains.

Professor Roberto Solari, a visiting fellow at the college’s National Heart and Lung Institute, said that instead of focusing on a remedy to kill the virus – which has been the basis of most research into a cure up until now – the researchers zeroed in on one of the ‘tools’ the bug uses to reproduce.

That tool is the human protein that cold viruses ‘hijack’ to build a protective barrier for themselves.

“We block the virus being able to create a shell around itself, so the virus doesn’t replicate itself,” Professor Solari said. He added that the laboratory trials using the most common cold strain, rhinovirus, had produced highly promising results.

However, it is early days. The next step before the discovery can be turned into a medicine involves testing to see if it is safe for humans.

If it is found to be non-toxic, it is likely that the chemical will be formulated into a throat spray.

Although healthy individuals can quickly recover from a cold, in some people it could lead to severe consequences and even death.

Those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis are most at risk of developing complications. It is for that reason that scientists will continue to work towards finding a remedy.

Do you catch colds often? How do you treat them? Are you tired of learning about another miracle cure that never develops beyond the laboratory?

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Written by Olga Galacho

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